FOXBORO, Mass. — Penalty flags dominated what should have been an entertaining, back-and-forth preseason game between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles.
Flags seemed to fly during every play, and it severely slowed down the game. Hopefully, by the time the regular season rolls around, teams learn not to commit the penalties that keep getting called or the refs start to hold back on throwing the flags.
The Patriots had a number of standout performances on Friday night. Check out New England’s stars of the game.
Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo and Ryan Mallett
The Patriots got tremendous performances out of all three of their quarterbacks. Brady was great in two straight drives, and his only blunder came on and interception caused by tight end Steve Maneri. Brady was able to hit Kenbrell Thompkins with a beautiful back-shoulder fade for a touchdown.
Garoppolo marched the Patriots down the field in his first two drives. He threw touchdowns to fullback James Develin and wide receiver Brandon LaFell. The Patriots stalled on Garoppolo’s next three drives, but he did enough to prove his first preseason performance wasn’t a fluke.
Mallett might have outperformed Garoppolo, and could help him keep the backup quarterback job on the Patriots. He threw a touchdown to Brian Tyms and scrambled in for another score.
Ninkovich didn’t need to prove anything in this game, but he had a tremendous two-game stretch, where he stopped LeSean McCoy by perfectly setting the edge, then sacking Nick Foles for a six-yard loss. Ninkovich is in his element playing outside linebacker in the Patriots’ 3-4.
Butler wasn’t quite as effective in coverage as he was in the Patriots’ preseason opener, but he still managed to make some plays for the Patriots. The rookie cornerback helped linebacker Dont’a Hightower force a fumble in the first quarter, then he forced and recovered a fumble later in the game. Butler started over Brandon Browner, Kyle Arrington and Logan Ryan at cornerback across from Darrelle Revis. He has an excellent shot of making the 53-man roster after two games.
Finch — all 5-foot-7, 180 pounds of him — showed major improvement from Week 1 of the preseason to Week 2. He had seven carries for 37 yards and a touchdown and two catches for 34 yards. Finch is tough to bring down once he gets into the open field.
Logan Ryan and Kyle Arrington
I would be remiss to not mention Ryan and Arrington, who didn’t look out of place despite playing safety — a new position for both players. The Patriots are giving everyone a shot next to Devin McCourty to start at safety. Ryan and Arrington, who played at separate times during the game, would each move down to the slot when the Patriots were in nickel, and a safety — either Duron Harmon or Patrick Chung — would enter the game.
If the Patriots’ goal is to get the best 11 players on the field, then Arrington or Ryan could be the Patriots’ starting safety in Week 1.
Photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images